Library Services


How to cite items from UCL Special Collections

These guidelines set out how to reference items from the UCL archives, records and rare printed collections in any type of publication.

Student examining a rare book from UCL Special Collections

The format of a citation or reference depends on the type of material. The sections below cover records, archives and manuscripts, such as letters, manuscripts, documents, and photographs, rare books and printed material, which includes books, periodicals, pamphlets and maps, and items from the digital collections, which includes digitised collection items and born-digital material.

You should followed the rules of the citation style that you are using. The guidelines below set out the elements that you should include in your reference, and contain example references in some of the most commonly used citation styles.

For further guidance and support, please email us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk.

Records, archives and manuscripts

References should include the following elements:

  • The author or creator of the item.
  • Title or description of the item.
  • The date the item was created.
  • The name of the collection.
  • The item reference number or the box and file number.
  • The name of the repository. Choose one of the following options, depending where the material you are citing is held:
    • UCL Special Collections, IOE Archives
    • UCL Special Collections, UCL Archives
    • UCL Special Collections, UCL Records
  • The place of the repository: London.

All of this information can be found on the Archives catalogue. The example of an item level catalogue record below shows where you can find the relevant information.

An example of an item record from the Archives catalogue, showing where to find the different elements required for a citation

  • Citation style: Chicago (Notes & Bibliography)
    1. Joseph Solomon. Portrait sketches, 22 January 1920, Mocatta Manuscripts, MS Mocatta/46, UCL Special Collections, UCL Archives, London (hereafter cited as MS Mocatta/46).
    2. MS Mocatta/46.
  • Citation style: Chicago (Author-Date)
    Annesley, Robert Matthew. Letter to Henry Brougham, June 1832. Brougham papers, BROUGHAM 42,319. UCL Special Collections, UCL Archives, London.
    Later references: (Annesley 1832)
  • Citation style: Harvard
    Foster, M. (1984). London Against Racism. Papers of Marina Foster MF/4/1, UCL Special Collections, IOE Archives, London.
    Later references: (Foster, 1984) 
  • Citation style: MHRA
    London, UCL Special Collections, UCL Records, Slade School of Fine Art, Anatomy Examinations, 1958-68, UCLCA/4/1/6/2.
    Later references: UCL Special Collections, UCLCA/4/1/6/2. 
  • Citation style: MLA
    Orwell, George. Notebook 1936-1937. July 1936-June 1937. UCL Special Collections, UCL Archives, London, Orwell Papers, ORWELL/C/1.
Rare Books and Printed Material

If you are referring to a copy-specific feature of an item in our collection, such as the binding or an annotation, you should include a reference to the particular copy you have consulted. 

In addition to the required bibliographical information, references will include the following elements:

  • The name of the repository. Choose one of the following options, depending on where the material you are citing is held:
    • UCL Special Collections
    • UCL, IOE Library
  • The place of the repository: London
  • The name of the collection, if applicable. See the A-Z lists of our rare book collections to find the collection name.
  • The item shelfmark

You can find the shelfmark on Explore, the Library Catalogue.

A screenshot showing where to find a shelfmark on the Explore Catalogue


  • Citation style: MHRA
    Augustine, De Sermone d[omi]ni in monte (Finem accept Lugduni: in edibus Jacobi Mareschal, 1520), London, UCL Special Collections, Ogden Library, STRONG ROOM OGDEN 255/3. 
    Later references: UCL Special Collections, STRONG ROOM OGDEN 255/3.
  • Citation style: MLA
    Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation. תפלה ותחינה ליום אשר קראו עצרה ... ביום קבורת ... הנשיא ... אלבירטו [Tefilah u-teḥinah la-yom asher ḳaru ʻatsarah … be-yom ḳevurat … ha-Naśi … Alberṭo] / Order of Service for the Day of Mournful Assembly … on the Day of Burial of His Royal Highness the Prince Consort. London, 1861. UCL Special Collections, London, Hebrew and Jewish Collections, MOCATTA BOXED PAMPHLETS RP 77.
  • Citation style: Chicago (Author-Date)
    Barker, Ernest. "The Place and the Function of the Training College in the National System of Education". The Forum of Education 3, no. 1 (1925): 13–23. IOE PERS, History of Education Collection, UCL, IOE Library, London.
    Later references: (Barker 1925, 16)
  • Citation style: Chicago (Notes & Bibliography)
    1. Yvonne Rainer, “Lecture for a group of expectant people”, 0-9, no. 5 (January 1969): 12. UCL Special Collections, London, LITTLE MAGAZINES ZER.
    2. Rainer, “Lecture”, 15.
  • Citation style: Harvard
    Goldsmith, Rev. J. (1806). An Easy Grammar of Geography. New edn. London: Richard Phillips. Brooke Collection 224, UCL, IOE Library, London.
    Later references: (Goldsmith, 1806).
Digital Collections

To cite an item from our digital collections, write the item reference according to the guidelines for physical items from our collections above, and add the Permalink according to the rules of the citation style you are using. Unlike the URL in your browser, this is a permanent and stable link to the digital content that you can find on Explore, the Library Catalogue.

A screenshot showing the Permalink button on Explore, the UCL Library catalogue


Reporting Publications

Please let us know if you have published an article, a book or another type of work to which the consultation of items in our physical or digital collections has contributed. 

This will enable us to promote your publication and help us track the impact of our collections and our work to make them available.

Report a new publication